Actual attractions abound in The Dubai Mall with everything from cinemas to an underwater zoo. But the next big thing to make an entrance to the world’s largest mall is Virtual Reality, which is hosted in a state-of-the-art VR Park that is spread across an expansive two storeys.
VR Park uses virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to literally immerse users in a new digital universe that can be seen and explored.
Don’t let the language put you off as the technology can be easily explained. Virtual reality is a completely immersive experience that shuts out the physical world - while you’re in the VR mask, you feel like you’re in a different environment - for example, you feel like you’re in outer space or underwater - and have no concept of what’s going on in actual reality.
Augmented reality on the other hand is about adding digital elements to a live view, like the way that Snapchat filters are added when you use the camera on a smartphone. VR Park uses both, depending on which experience you choose. I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
There are 18 different attractions, and while entry to VR Park is free, you pay between AED15 and AED45 per activity. It really just depends on your interests, as there is something for everyone. I would say the biggest crowd-pleasers are the ‘Burj Drop’, which will see you propelling down the side of Burj Khalifa (think Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 4) and the ‘Dune Bash’ will take you on a hair-raising ride through the desert dunes of the UAE, complete with animal encounters.
If you’re someone who likes a good scare, there are some jumpy games to try as well. The ‘Walking Dead Outbreak’ takes its inspiration from the popular TV show - plug in to this one and you’ll have to battle a zombie outbreak in a hospital. ‘The Raft’ is similarly creepy, and will see you defending your raft from all kinds of baddies as it sails through a swamp. The good thing about both of these games is that they’re multiplayer experiences, so you don’t have to tackle the monsters alone.
As you’d expect from such a family-friend destination as The Dubai Mall, there are some VR Park activities for younger visitors too. The ‘VR Bus’ is an immersive VR experience that lets you take a bus ride through some of the world’s biggest cities and see their major landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to the Dubai Creek. Older children will love Arena, an AR experience that lets you learn about different environments in cinema quality 3D, from polar bears in the antarctic to dinosaurs in the prehistoric world. You could completely forget that you’re still in a mall.
It would be easy to spend a whole day VR Park, and that’s without factoring in all the other experiences at The Dubai Mall. The VR Park is also in proximity to the soon-to-open Address Fountain Views, a new premium getaway destination connected to The Dubai Mall via the Links Bridge, and the three-storey mall expansion at its podium level along Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard. The luxury hotel boasts a superb, high-tech spa. Its dining concept The Restaurant recreates a stylish modern apartment to make guests feel at home while they’re enjoying a meal. Plus, the views of The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa are spectacular - even more so than the views you get during ‘Burj Drop’ at VR Park.
Jen C. is a Dubai resident with a keen interest in travel and culture